It’s Grill Season: See Why We Have the Best Meat Around!
With summer at its most spectacular, my grill is working overtime. I’m happy doing the cooking or just watching someone else run things but grill we must! This month I asked Brian Maloney, our Meat & Seafood Category Manager (who’s been with Healthy Living for over 23 years!!) to talk about how you can feel good about the meats you and your family eat thanks to our high standards.
Also, you’ll see that Chef Mike generously shared a truly yummy grill recipe featuring pork chops. Vermont Heritage Grazers bring us simply amazing pork products—honestly, the best I’ve ever had. I’ll let Brian share his expertise!
Our product standards are more than words on a sign, they’re who we are. They ensure our guests get the best quality meat raised from animals that have led happy lives. And sourcing from local farms means that we are supporting our community, keeping our neighbors in business, while giving you access to exceptional food.
I remember 20+ years ago, Mark Boyden from Boyden Farm pulling up in his Jeep to deliver his beef to us. We sold it out of kitchen refrigerators back then! Our coolers are now more advanced, yet our commitment to these local partnerships and high standards has stayed the same.
Let’s walk through what some of these standards really mean:
Free from Hormones and Antibiotics
Animals are raised without the use of antibiotics, and hormones are never administered to promote rapid growth. All our organic meat comes from animals raised on organic feed, again without the use of antibiotics or hormones, as well as free from synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
Grass-Fed, Grass-Fed/Grain-Finished, and Pasture-Raised
Grass-fed meat comes from animals that have consumed grass or forage throughout their entire lives. Pasture-raised animals have access to open spaces where they can freely roam.
All the feed is vegetarian, meaning the animals are never fed animal by-products. All our animals are traceable back to the farm where they were raised. For grass-fed we use Hardwick, Thousand Hills, and Silver Fern farms. For grass-fed/grain-finished, we use Boyden Farm, Pineland Farms, and Black River Meats.
All animals are provided with appropriate space, access to clean water, and natural diets. Unnecessary stress and confinement are always avoided.
A great example of how we work with farmers who prioritize animal welfare is our partnership with Alethea Bahnck from Vermont Heritage Grazers, who Katy mentioned earlier. I wholeheartedly agree with her: their pork is some of the best I’ve ever had—and I’ve had my fair share!
Alethea has been raising pigs in the Champlain Valley since 2007 on a 245-acre farm in an area known as Vermont’s “Banana Belt” due to its open rolling hills and slightly more temperate climate. A major element of her farming practice is allowing the pigs to live expressing their natural behaviors. They eat, drink, roam, dig, and sleep on their own schedules.
The conventional pork industry often uses farrowing (birthing) crates and tight pens. Sure, this lets you raise more pigs, less expensively, but the cost for the animal’s wellbeing is far too high and doesn’t align with our values. We’re so proud to make our in-house sausage exclusively from Vermont Heritage Grazers pork and we’ve even been talking with Alethea about producing a local line of bacon and hams, too. Stay tuned!
BACK TO KATY:
One of my biggest joys is getting to collaborate with passionate experts who are so good at what they do, like Brian and Alethea. Maintaining our high standards takes a lot of work, yet the end result is SO worth it: you, our guests, get to enjoy the best of what Vermont and New York have to offer. Now back to our delicious cookouts—Chef Mike’s pork chops are calling!
CITIZEN CIDER PORK ROAST
- 4 Vermont Heritage Grazers Pork Chops (bone-in is always best!)
- 32 oz. (2 cans) Citizen Cider Lake Hopper
- 4 C. Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 Granny Smith Apple, sliced
- 1 Small Onion, sliced thin
- 3 Ribs Celery, sliced thin
- 10 Cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
- 3 T. Mustard Seeds
- 3 ea. Cinnamon Stick, whole
- 3 ea. Star Anise, whole
- 10 ea. Clove, whole
- 3 ea. Rosemary Sprig
- Half Bunch Thyme
- 3 ea. Bay Leaf
- 0.25 C. Kosher Salt
- 2 C. Sugar
- Place the pork chops in a deep container that you can seal. PRO TIP: Freezer bags work in a pinch.
- Combine everything except the pork chops in a stainless-steel bowl and whisk together until the sugar and salt dissolve.
- Pour the cold brine over the pork chops and let sit for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
- The next day, remove the pork chops from the brine and pat dry.
- Season with salt and cracked black pepper and grill over your favorite type of wood, gas, or charcoal.
- Cook the pork until it reaches 145 degrees.
- Let sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing.